Blazers, Lillard, hold off late Kings rally 110-99
The Portland Trail Blazers held off a late rally from the Sacramento Kings to win 110-99 Sunday in Sacramento. Damian Lillard scored 31 points had seven assists, putting the Kings away late by setting the clocks to Lillard Time in the fourth quarter.
The Blazers led by as much as 17, but the Kings came back, mostly because of their bench. Led by Andre Miller and his desire to get the ball up the floor quickly, the Kings bench outplayed Portland’s secondary units for most of the game. The Kings cut the lead to 1 with under nine minutes left.
But the Blazers had Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, with both playing like stars, and that was enough for the Blazers at the end of this one. Portland’s size advantage without Cousins was exploited as expected as they enjoyed a +10 advantage in rebounds.
Wesley Matthews was aggressive early, playing with a brace on his right hand, and he was efficient. Matthews scored 17 points on just eight shots and he also had a wonderful block on Ray McCallum in a fastbreak near the end.
Miller had a double-double of 12 points and 10 assists, pushing the ball and Derrick Williams took great advantage of Miller’s excellent lob passes. Williams had 17 points.
But this game gave you the feeling that the Kings never really had that much of a chance. Things got tense when they cut the lead to one point but Portland strung together the run they needed to to get out with a win. At least for today, the Blazers left their problem with keeping leads in the fourth quarter in February.
Chris Kaman had the play of the game.
But the game itself was not all that good even though it got exciting towards the end. There were a combined 29 turnovers, with 17 coming from the Blazers. Portland’s bench was awful in that respect, particularly Steve Blake (5) and Arron Afflalo (4). The Blazers’ stars played well, but they definitely dodged a bullet without Cousins in the line-up.
- Reggie Evans was a pest in this game, as he always is. He was another reason the Kings second unit played so well. He had only six rebounds. But he also almost got Robin Lopez thrown out of the game by getting him angered to the point that he shoved him while he jumped for a rebound.
- Ryan Hollins blocked a Meyers Leonard 3-pointer in the first half. Pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve seen that happened. But word is starting to get around to other teams that he’s a threat from out there.
- We saw Joel Freeland get his first minutes since Jan. 3 in the second quarter. Freeland came in with Robin Lopez for just under two minutes after Evans forced Stotts to get in the tougher Freeland and Lopez.
- Alonzo Gee got his first Blazer minutes in the second quarter thanks to Nicolas Batum getting in foul trouble. Gee came into the game to check Rudy Gay, who had a nice game with 24 points and eight rebounds. Gee played tough defense and hit a corner three. Who knows when we will see more of him but he did well for himself Sunday.
- Very impressed with Matthews’ play despite still being bothered some by his hand/wrist. His block on McCollum was with the right hand too.
- Batum had a rough night from the field, going 1-for-6 with two points, four rebounds, five assists and no free-throw attempts. Chalk some of that up to the foul trouble he had in the first half and some to the match-up with Gay, which has been tough for Batum this year. The Kings and their 27th ranked defense also didn’t really work that hard to force the ball out of Lillard or Aldridge’s hands.
- The Blazers have a big game on Wednesday against the Clippers, who are 1.5 games back in the standings and are 2-0 on the series. Remember: if the Clippers (or any team) are the fifth seed and have a better record than the 4th seeded Blazers, the team with the better record would have homecourt advantage.
- Portland is 1.5 games back of Houston for the third seed in the West after both teams won today.